What is Lewy body dementia, the serious illness suffered by Catherine Laborde?

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While the husband of former presenter Catherine Laborde has announced that his partner is increasingly losing her abilities due to Lewy body dementia from which she suffers, this little-known complex neurodegenerative disease is in fact more common than we don’t believe it.

Memory loss, cognitive disorders, hallucinations… Lewy body disease, from which former presenter Catherine Laborde suffers, is a disease that is little known and yet common in France. Very difficult to manage for the patient as for his entourage, we explain to you what this disease consists of.

Lewy body disease is a complex neurodegenerative disease. Indeed, it affects different parts of the brain and evolves in a variable way. According to France Alzheimer, “nearly 250,000 people” are affected by the disease in France “including 67% who are not diagnosed”.

The first symptoms of Lewy body disease are cognitive impairment. “Generally, the sick person has difficulty in visual and spatial perception. They may also have difficulty performing several tasks simultaneously, reasoning logically.” Then, attention disorders and memory problems may appear. “The ill person may also exhibit mood and behavioral changes that may suggest depression,” the site says.

Hallucinations, mood swings, disturbed sleep

According to the France Alzheimer website, “about 80% of sick people experience visual hallucinations, sometimes auditory, often in the early stages of the disease.” Motor disorders can also appear, they evoke the symptoms of a parkinsonian syndrome: slowing down, rigidity or tremor. Other symptoms can be mistakenly equated with Parkinson’s disease such as “change in handwriting, shuffling, blockages, balance problems then falls, frozen expression, reduction in intensity of the voice”.

Mood swings can also be seen. They are usually manifested by depressive symptoms, agitation, apathy, a state of paranoia, anxiety or even delirium. At the same time, the patient may have significant sleep disorders, in particular via behavioral disorders during REM sleep. “The ill person is restless in his sleep, seeming to live his dream. He can speak, have violent movements. He can fall from his bed or get out of it and pursue his dream in a kind of state of somnambulism”, perhaps we read on the site.

Diagnostic

The wide variety of symptoms makes diagnosis of the disease difficult. However, suggestive symptoms combined with an imaging examination of the synapses (point of contact between two neurons), or even a cardiac scintigraphy, magnetic resonance imaging or polysomnography can be carried out to support the diagnosis.

Treatment

To date, there is no cure for Lewy body disease. Only symptomatic treatments capable of slowing the progression of the disease can be administered to the patient.

However, “many antipsychotic drugs, especially first-generation ones, can cause dangerous side effects and increase the risk of confusion, falls, or even death in people with MCL.”

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